2024 Course Dates Coming Soon


Explore wild Alaska, earn credit toward your degree, and have the adventure you’re ready for. Tatoosh courses are a great fit for undergraduates interested in exploring topics from biology to art to politics. Dig into the details below and check out @tatooshschool for photos and videos from the field.

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Tatoosh Summer Semester

Session outline

This 8-week session covers a full semester’s course work. We will explore from the Outer Coast to the Inside Passage, and study interactions at varying scales and across biological, social, biophysical, and cultural boundaries. Four academic courses are taken concurrently (see the descriptions, just below). You’ll receive some pre-reading in April to complete before arriving in Alaska. All undergraduate and first-year graduate students are encouraged to apply and no prerequisites are required.

Over our 8 weeks together, we’ll embark on four 7-10 day backcountry sea kayak expeditions, plus three shorter remote trips. Our base camp in Coffman Cove will be our resupply, resting place and community anchor. You’ll travel into Ketchikan and out of Wrangell, Alaska by jet, and we’ll also use water taxis to move between islands. Email, call or text Erin (erin@tatooshschool.org, 907-406-9075) if you’re thinking about applying and have questions about the specifics of travel or logistics; a detailed itinerary will be provided upon enrollment.

Course descriptions (each course equivalent to 4 semester or 6 quarter units)

Community Ecology uses a systems approach to examine the biology of the Pacific Coastal Ecoregion. The course develops a foundational understanding of the geomorphology, ecology and natural history of southern southeast Alaska. Students gain familiarity with nearshore, estuarine, forest and river environments.

Case Studies for Change employs case studies to unpack tools for responding to ecological change. Topics include nearshore aquatic habitat, island biogeography, stream ecology and restoration, fisheries, wildlife ecology and management, forest succession and water quality. Examples of case studies are at-risk Alexander Archipelago wolves; karst-forest-fish systems; shifting salmon species composition; and freshwater habitat restoration. Students will talk with case experts and see resilience first-hand.

Public Land Management for the 21st Century looks into the future of public land management through examples, experiences and conversations with key leaders on the Tongass National Forest. At 16.8 million acres, the Tongass is America’s biggest national forest by far, and its ownership and management are a policy learning laboratory for public lands and natural resource conservation across the United States. Students will analyze challenges and opportunities on the Tongass to animate transformational social, political and economic approaches to public land management.

Political Ecology of Prince of Wales Island studies the relationship between society and environment on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. The course examines how processes of environmental conservation, restoration, development and conflicts over natural resource use and control have shaped the biophysical, cultural, social and economic landscape. Through readings, discussion and community-engaged learning students will explore concepts and lived experience of Indigenous rights, property relations, community well-being, history and the particularities of place. The course is predicated on the assumption that while environmental problems are often common, their causes are complex and changing. Therefore, many solutions are specific to time and place. Here, we choose Prince of Wales Island and dig in.

While on course, you’re “on” seven days a week, exploring and learning with your classmates and instructors. We have class in the morning (after coffee!), at lunch on a paddle day, or when a neighbor drops by to chat about the fishing, and readiness is the name of the game. We’ll give readings and assignments frequently, and classes are active and interactive. Along with academic coursework and research projects, you’ll gain foundational skills in wilderness sea kayaking and camping. These skills begin with the basics: cooking, stove use, navigation with maps, charts, and a compass, and Leave No Trace ethics. Kayaking curriculum includes paddle strokes, tides and ocean currents, weather, marine hazards and wet exits. We’ll also cover expedition behavior, leadership and risk management. As your course progresses, you will join us as we identify and manage the hazards of wind and waves, rocky shorelines, currents, open crossings, and cold water. We may wait out a storm for a few days, packing in classes under the tarp and learning the music of the rain. By living on the landscape that we study, we get to know its details, challenges, and beauties; this is wild learning.

Scroll our Instagram to see pictures and videos from the field.

Learn more about course costs.

Questions? Ask an alum – alumni at tatooshschool.org